Lost Ark Review 2022

So, I started playing Lost Ark the new MMO / Action RPG.  I was skeptical about the game at first and thought it looked like a no thumb button masher grindy Free to Play game.    But I started seeing the game set concurrent player records while I was late to the party, it got my attention, maybe I should try this game and see what the fuss is about?  And so I did…

I’ve been playing MMOs since Ultimate Online dating back to 1997 and I’ve seen many come and go. You’ll want to watch this video for an honest opinion on Lost Ark which released in the US February of 2022 while the game was originally released in Korea in 2019.  The big question I’m going to try to answer as a long time MMO player and fan is this, Lost Ark is it another trash MMO or a treasure?  Let’s begin


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Lost Ark has everything you would expect from a normal MMO, PvE with raids, dungeons and questing.   PvP with instanced based arenas and open world fights and crafting, housing and more.  This isn’t an MMO that lacks content, collectables are things to do at launch.  Often times Lost Ark feels like there’s too much to do and you can easily get overwhelmed.

The TLDR about Lost Ark that I found is it’s a potato chip game.  Meant to be played, like eating a snack.  Not eating an entire bag of chips expecting to be full and satisfied but bit by bit enjoying the journey.  But let’s move on and cover some of the basics about the game.

Lost ark features 5 classes with 15 subclasses each with their own unique skills and playstyle. (I think the first trailer has each class broken down, I’d cut that up otherwise they have trailers 9 seconds for each:

  • Warrior, heavy melee focused, and one could argue the meatheads of Lost Ark
  • Martial Artist another melee focused hand to hand combat style
  • Gunner as you can guess, range with weapons
  • Mage, typical magic ranged caster from any other RPG
  • And Assassin which are your quick and demonic rogue melee types

The visuals are what people notice first about Lost Ark, the top-down isometric view.  This feels like Diablo and Divinity Original Sin 2 had a baby both in terms of camera position and partly gameplay.

In Lost Ark you’ll mainly use point and click for movement and targeting and it takes a bit to get use to. You’ll also have many hotkeys for items, consumables, mounts and so on which will feel familiar to World of Warcraft type MMOs.  I would say if the top-down view and controls are jarring for you, don’t quit the game entirely as it takes time to adapt but this isn’t for everyone

You start out your character like any other MMO with a customizable character creator, picking your class and then an introduction tutorial.  The first thing I didn’t care for in Lost Ark was gender locked classes, which the developers said later they would change.  The character creator didn’t feel that special or unique, offering very little that was new or stood out.  The tutorial, however, was very impressive giving you a solid course in combat and holding your hand making you understand the core components of the games fundamentals.

Speaking of the combat, before I played Lost Ark, I felt from watching videos and streams this was a button masher with very little skill, until I played it.  I realized very quickly that wasn’t the case when I encountered good players in both PvE and PvP. Positioning, timing, rotations, consumables, understanding crowd control, interrupts and the list goes on and on.

Unlike your traditional tab target MMOs you won’t have to manage 30+ abilities with 2-minute-long cooldowns.  The combat feels much more responsive and active with very little need to “auto attack” or wait your major ability to come off cool down.

The character builds blend a semi traditional skill tree with passive you can take as you increase the skill points of an ability.  You’ll get 3 options at each stage with 3 stage total, giving you some customization in your build. But truthfully, most meta builds have been established and exported from the Korea server, so you have little flexibility in skills and spec if you want to be any good at the game.

Speaking of not being good at the game, At first, I was your typical button masher.  Not reading my skills, auto attacking mostly, and having trouble with the most basic of dungeons.  I went back to the drawing board started looking at online resource for builds and working on a rotation.  I also used the in-game interface to setup multi spec builds, one for AoE massive fights, one for bosses and single target.

Then it became clear like other MMOs, the combat is like a dance.  Go in for the attack, do a combination of 3 or so abilities and move out and repeat.  Far from button mashing, you have to wait for key moments to time your ultimate and chain combination attacks or interrupting a boss within a split second for a clutch victory.

This is one of the core strengths of the game, it’s combat.  There’s so much nuance to the combat it could take you a lifetime to master.  Not to mention just as soon as you get a hang of one subclass, there’s 14 more to go, giving you endless amounts of replay.

Back to my original point about the tutorial and combat, you’ll complete this section and start your journey that is nearly entirely linear at the start of the game.  You move from bread crumb to bread crumb, questing relentlessly and at certain intervals, the game teaches you new mechanics, systems, and currencies.

This is a catch 22 for me.  One side, I love the hand holding and making sure you know where to go and what to do, on the other hand I felt I pigeonholed into doing questing for hours on end when all I wanted to do was experience PvP and group PvE.

Regarding the story which I will not spoil, it’s quite impressive. Smilegate does an incredible job at cutscenes, building up of the main bad guy and epic fights with massive over the top graphical conclusions.  Sometimes it felt like Dragon Ball Z meets Lord of the Rings.  There are incredible parts of the games initially story where I thought the quality and scope were that of a single player RPG.  But you’re hit with major snags and slow points and so you get a roller coaster effect of excitement and boredom.

Even though there are slow points, I’d honestly recommend the game to anyone who enjoys typical RPG stories.  But ultimately, I truly missed the freedom, exploration and choices of other games like Elder Scrolls Online or Star Wars the Old Republic which allowed you to explore at your own pace AND do activates outside of questing for hours. (SWTOR clips in here and ESO)

But don’t worry, it gets better, much better.

Once you reach level 26 and complete some of basic story elements you can compete in PvP instanced based combat 3v3 arenas or team elimination.  And this is where the game truly shines. It’s a true competitive environment.  Meaning, even at level 26, you get access to all the skills that other players have, and gear isn’t a factor.  Let me say that again, there isn’t any gear, power level, gear cap, nothing that effects your performance other than your ability and competence.

This feels like the potential for e sport quality PvP though it’s not going to be for everyone.  The PvP in Lost Ark centers around constant crowd control, movement, angles, and geometry.  You have no real “heal” per say, only shields.  Thus, each teammate will need to peel, defend, and help their team otherwise you’ll get dunked on.  I got sucked into PvP at level 26.  In fact, I pretty much stopped what I was doing because I like PvPso much that I couldn’t get enough of it.   Typically, I was the weak link on my team, but I didn’t care.  I was learning, competing, and having fun.  Moreover, I didn’t have to spend 1,000 hours to farm gear, the ques were instanced, the game has such a robust population you never fought the same person twice.  Need I go on?

This is exactly what I’m looking for in a PvP game.  Though Lost Ark’s PvP isn’t perfect.  The constant stun lock, imbalance in classes which exist in any MMO but the pros outweighed the cons.  Immediately my content creator brain was thinking of countless PvP guides and I started writing notes down.  That’s when I knew I would play Lost Ark going forward.  Maybe not as my main game, but the PvP to me is worth the time investment from a fun perspective and content creator perspective.

But, you may not love PvP as I do, so what about PvE?

Oh boy, there’s a lot.  As you continue to progress you reach soft cap level 50 with a hard cap of level 60.  Again the game slowly introduces you to systems, one being gear.  It’s a vertical progression system similar to Destiny 2 with gear score.  You slowly start using materials collected from questing and pve activities to upgrade your characters armor, increasing your power level and allowing you to do more challenging content.

You have a lot to do, some of the basic are:

  • Chaos Dungeons which are massive AoE mob grinds, think Diablo here.
  • Abyssal dungeons which are your typical dungeons with mechanic and four players and are quiet impressive for an isometric game but are much quicker than your typical MMO raid/dungeon.
  • Cube which is a solo PvE environment trying to clear mobs and increasing your level for rewards.
  • Guardian Raids which are a bit different, finding one boss in a largeish area and killing it with a group.

Those are the basic things to do with countless other activates, progression systems and seemingly endless amounts of currency to collect.

And this is the major downside to the game.  It’s too damn complex.  You have 15+ currencies, progression in your house, boat, 20 different ways to increase your characters power, ability stones, engravings, gear score, tiers of gear, etc. etc.  It’s just way to complex.

I think of it like Destiny 2.  When I played in 2017 my gear score or light level was easy to understand and increase.  When I returned to the game in 2021, there were so many systems and ways to enhance your gear and characters power, I felt completely lost and gave up.mmI asked myself in Destiny 2, okay well I’ll need a 200-hour investment to get caught up playing alts just to feed my main character light level.  Naw, I go play another game that I know.  I find myself feeling the same about Lost Ark’s PvE.  Very complex, hard to understand and I feel it needs about 50% less systems to attract a simply minded person like myself.  Kill crap, get gear, equip gear, rinse, and repeat.

Another factor to consider is Lost Ark’s daily and weekly system, also similar to SWTOR or Destiny 2 and vastly different than ESO.  In this game, you have dailies and weeklies that can be run on each character which reward mats that can be used to upgrade your gear.  You either like this type of system or you don’t.  I like it, because it gives players a clear objective to progress your character each day.  Whereas horizontal progression games like The Elder Scrolls Online have a confusing sense of progression once you reach max level.  Lost Ark is a slow drip of progression in gear vs an all you can eat buffet.

Once I got my brain wrapped around Lost Ark’s PvE and how it’s meant to be played, it’s a potato chip game, play a couple hours a day and over time you’ll have max level characters just like any other MMOs.  Grind it to dust, you’re going to miserable and think the game sucks and move on like the other content locust do. Devouring game after game screaming this has nothing to do.  Yes after 1,000 hours in a month shocker the developers don’t have something for you to do.  That’s another topic, moving on.

Speaking of end game PvE, apparently the system has some pay 2-win elements with even the developers acknowledging in a recent post.  I’m not that far enough along to know what those are, but from my understanding you can spend real life money to buy mats that can be used to upgrade gear.  I know little about this, but if you’re serious about end game PvE and competitive environments, you’ll want to do your research.  Me, I’m more in love with this games PvP but worth noting.

Another thing worth noting is the robust and polished nature of this game at launch.  Outside of content locus that have a gazillion hours of time, you’ll have so much to do you can play this game for a year casually exploring and farting around questing.

Not to mention it performs very well. I have a 5-year-old laptop that the game runs find on, and my main PC it runs buttery smooth and looks and sounds gorgeous. I only crashed once in 30 hours of gameplay which is astonishing for solitary let alone a massive MMO.

And yet another thing to note is the social elements of this MMORPG which are lack luster in comparison to other games.  You have traditional guild, which is per character. Thus, if you start alts, you run into the dilemma of do I put my alts into my main guild or not?  You have friends and roster friends, basically another weird and goofy complex social system which needs to be cleared up.  Plus, you have the gear score element, thus if my friend is much higher gear score than me, doing content at a lower level doesn’t really benefit him or her much.  So, you run into this, well I’ll just play solo and we can chat syndrome.  I think the game has a long way to go to encourage strong guilds unity, connectivity, and simultaneous progression.

There’s a massive amount more I could cover but I want to make this video brief.  I think I’ve been fair giving you the pros and the cons.  I really enjoy the game as a side piece with S Tier quality PvP potential.  I think Lost Ark is a treasure for me, the MMORPG fan who loves PvP, combat, and leveling alts.  Though this isn’t for everyone.

I don’t care for the on rails forceful relentless questing, the social interface is archaic and offers very little incentive for grouping and socializing, and the cash shop might be an issue later on.

The pros outweigh the cons for me, and I plan on playing and covering this game going forward.  20 minutes in, I was having fun and said to myself “I could play this game for 18 hours today.”  1 hour later, I was writing notes about all the things I was learning and enjoying about the game.  And then I hit PvP and was squealing like a pig when I didn’t have to farm gear, grind something, I just could que up over and over and over and try to gitgud.

Thanks for reading!